This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her

3.5 118
by Junot Díaz
     
 

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Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz’s first book, Drown, established him as a major new writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet” (Newsweek). His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was named #1 Fiction Book of the Year” by Time magazine and spent more than 100…  See more details below

Overview

Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz’s first book, Drown, established him as a major new writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet” (Newsweek). His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was named #1 Fiction Book of the Year” by Time magazine and spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing itself – with more than a million copies in print – as a modern classic. In addition to the Pulitzer, Díaz has won a host of major awards and prizes, including the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the PEN/O. Henry Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Anisfield-Wolf Award.

Now Díaz turns his remarkable talent to the haunting, impossible power of love – obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness--and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in the New York Times-Bestselling This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Drown, [Diaz's] 1996 collection of stories, was widely praised for its verve and searing honesty. Readers of that and [The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao] will find much to love in This Is How You Lose Her. Written in a singular idiom of Spanglish, hip-hop poetry and professorial erudition, it is comic in its mopiness, charming in its madness and irresistible in its heartfelt yearning.
—Ron Hansen
The New York Times
…a miniaturist performance—a modest, musically structured riff that works variations on one main subject: a young Dominican man's womanizing and its emotional fallout…This Is How You Lose Her doesn't aspire to be a grand anatomy of love like Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera…but it gives us a small, revealing window on the subject.
—Michiko Kakutani
The New York Times Book Review
This Is How You Lose Her can stand on its own, but fans will be glad to hear that it brings back Yunior, who narrated several of the stories in Díaz's first collection, Drown…Yunior is a gorgeously full-blown character—half the time you want to comfort him, the other half you want to kick him in the pants…In the new book, as previously, Díaz is almost too good for his own good. His prose style is so irresistible, so sheerly entertaining, it risks blinding readers to its larger offerings. Yet he weds form so ideally to content that instead of blinding us, it becomes the very lens through which we can see the joy and suffering of the signature Díaz subject: what it means to belong to a diaspora, to live out the possibilities and ambiguities of perpetual insider/outsider status.
—Leah Hager Cohen
From the Publisher
Praise for Junot Díaz

"One of contemporary fiction's most distinctive and irresistible voices." –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times 

“Talent this big will always make noise.” –Newsweek

“Graceful and raw and painful and smart... The pages turn and all of a sudden you’re done and you want more.” –The Boston Globe

“Like Raymond Carver, Díaz transfigures disorder and disorientation with a rigorous sense of form... [He] wrings the heart with finely calibrated restraint.” –The New York Times Book Review

Library Journal
10/01/2014
The latest work since the author's 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao contains nine short stories linked by a common narrator whose tales of love won but mostly lost are recounted with macho bravado.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101596951
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/11/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
39,374
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Year 0       Your girl catches you cheating. (Well, actually she’s your fiancée, but hey, in a bit it so won’t matter.) She could have caught you with one sucia, she could have caught you with two, but as you’re a totally batshit cuero who didn’t ever empty his e­mail trash can, she caught you with fifty! Sure, over a six­-year period, but still. Fifty fucking girls? Goddamn. Maybe if you’d been engaged to a super open-minded blanquita you could have survived it—but you’re not engaged to a super open­minded blanquita. Your girl is a bad­ass salcedeña who doesn’t believe in open anything; in fact the one thing she warned you about, that she swore she would never forgive, was cheating. I’ll put a machete in you, she promised. And of course you swore you wouldn’t do it. You swore you wouldn’t. You swore you wouldn’t.       And you did.       She’ll stick around for a few months because you dated for a long long time. Because you went through much together—her father’s death, your tenure madness, her bar exam (passed on the third attempt). And because love, real love, is not so easily shed. Over a tortured six-­month period you will fly to the DR, to Mexico (for the funeral of a friend), to New Zealand. You will walk the beach where they filmed The Piano, something she’s always wanted to do, and now, in penitent desperation, you give it to her. She is immensely sad on that beach and she walks up and down the shining sand alone, bare feet in the freezing water, and when you try to hug her she says, Don’t. She stares at the rocks jutting out of the water, the wind taking her hair straight back. On the ride back to the hotel, up through those wild steeps, you pick up a pair of hitchhikers, a couple, so mixed it’s ridiculous, and so giddy with love that you almost throw them out the car. She says nothing. Later, in the hotel, she will cry.       You try every trick in the book to keep her. You write her letters. You drive her to work. You quote Neruda. You compose a mass e-mail disowning all your sucias. You block their e-mails. You change your phone number. You stop drinking. You stop smoking. You claim you’re a sex addict and start attending meetings. You blame your father. You blame your mother. You blame the patriarchy. You blame Santo Domingo. You find a therapist. You cancel your Facebook. You give her the passwords to all your e­mail accounts. You start taking salsa classes like you always swore you would so that the two of you could dance together. You claim that you were sick, you claim that you were weak—­It was the book! It was the pressure!—­and every hour like clockwork you say that you’re so so sorry. You try it all, but one day she will simply sit up in bed and say, No more, and, Ya, and you will have to move from the Harlem apartment that you two have shared. You consider not going. You consider a squat protest. In fact, you say won’t go. But in the end you do.       For a while you haunt the city, like a two­-bit ballplayer dreaming of a call-­up. You phone her every day and leave messages, which she doesn’t answer. You write her long sensitive letters, which she returns unopened. You even show up at her apartment at odd hours and at her job downtown until finally her little sister calls you, the one who was always on your side, and she makes it plain: If you try to contact my sister again she’s going to put a restraining order on you.       For some Negroes that wouldn’t mean shit.       But you ain’t that kind of Negro.       You stop. You move back to Boston. You never see her again. Year 1       At first you pretend it don’t matter. You harbored a lot of grievances against her anyway. Yes you did! She didn’t give good head, you hated the fuzz on her cheeks, she never waxed her pussy, she never cleaned up around the apartment, etc. For a few weeks you almost believe it. Of course you go back to smoking, to drinking, you drop the therapist and the sex addict groups and you run around with the sluts like it’s the good old days, like nothing has happened.       I’m back, you say to your boys.       Elvis laughs. It’s almost like you never left.       You’re good for like a week. Then your moods become erratic. One minute you have to stop yourself from jumping in the car and driving to see her and the next you’re calling a sucia and saying, You’re the one I always wanted. You start losing your temper with friends, with students, with colleagues. You cry every time you hear Monchy and Alexandra, her favorite.       Boston, where you never wanted to live, where you feel you’ve been exiled to, becomes a serious problem. You have trouble adjusting to it full­time; to its trains that stop running at midnight, to the glumness of its inhabitants, to its startling lack of Sichuan food. Almost on cue a lot of racist shit starts happening. Maybe it was always there, maybe you’ve become more sensitive after all your time in NYC. White people pull up at traffic lights and scream at you with a hideous rage, like you nearly ran over their mothers. It’s fucking scary. Before you can figure out what the fuck is going on they flip you the bird and peel out. It happens again and again. Security follows you in stores and every time you step on Harvard property you’re asked for ID. Three times, drunk whitedudes try to pick fights with you in different parts of the city.       You take it all very personally. I hope someone drops a fucking bomb on this city, you rant. This is why no people of color want to live here. Why all my black and Latino students leave as soon as they can.       Elvis says nothing. He was born and raised in Jamaica Plain, knows that trying to defend Boston from uncool is like blocking a bullet with a slice of bread. Are you OK? he asks finally.       I’m dandy, you say. Mejor que nunca.       Except you’re not. You’ve lost all the mutual friends you had in NYC (they went to her), your mother won’t speak to you after what happened (she liked the fiancée better than she liked you), and you’re feeling terribly guilty and terribly alone. You keep writing letters to her, waiting for the day that you can hand them to her. You also keep fucking everything that moves. Thanksgiving you end up having to spend in your apartment because you can’t face your mom and the idea of other people’s charity makes you furious. The ex, as you’re now calling her, always cooked: a turkey, a chicken, a pernil. Set aside all the wings for you. That night you drink yourself into a stupor, spend two days recovering.       You figure that’s as bad as it gets. You figure wrong. During finals a depression rolls over you, so profound you doubt there is a name for it. It feels like you’re being slowly pincered apart, atom by atom.       You stop hitting the gym or going out for drinks; you stop shaving or washing your clothes; in fact, you stop doing almost everything. Your friends begin to worry about you, and they are not exactly the worrying types. I’m OK, you tell them, but with each passing week the depression darkens. You try to describe it. Like someone flew a plane into your soul. Like someone flew two planes into your soul. Elvis sits shivah with you in the apartment; he pats you on the shoulder, tells you to take it easy. Four years earlier Elvis had a Humvee blow up on him on a highway outside of Baghdad. The burning wreckage pinned him for what felt like a week, so he knows a little about pain. His back and buttocks and right arm so scarred up that even you, Mr. Hard Nose, can’t look at them. Breathe, he tells you. You breathe nonstop, like a marathon runner, but it doesn’t help. Your little letters become more and more pathetic. Please, you write. Please come back. You have dreams where she’s talking to you like in the old days—­in that sweet Spanish of the Cibao, no sign of rage, of disappointment. And then you wake up.       You stop sleeping, and some night when you’re drunk and alone you have a wacky impulse to open the window of your ­fifth-­floor apartment and leap down to the street. If it wasn’t for a couple of things you probably would have done it, too. But (a) you ain’t the killing­yourself type; (b) your boy Elvis keeps a strong eye on you—­he’s over all the time, stands by the window as if he knows what you’re thinking. And (c) you have this ridiculous hope that maybe one day she will forgive you.       She doesn’t.

From This is How You Lose Her © September 2012 by Junot Diaz, published by Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

Finalist for the 2012 National Book Award
Winner of the Sunday Times Short Story Award
Time and People Top 10 Book of 2012
Finalist for the 2012 Story Prize
Chosen as a notable or best book of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment WeeklyThe LA Times, Newsday, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, the iTunes bookstore, and many more...
 

Junot Díaz writes in an idiom so electrifying and distinct it’s practically an act of aggression, at once enthralling, even erotic in its assertion of sudden intimacy… [It is] a syncopated swagger-step between opacity and transparency, exclusion and inclusion, defiance and desire… His prose style is so irresistible, so sheerly entertaining, it risks blinding readers to its larger offerings. Yet he weds form so ideally to content that instead of blinding us, it becomes the very lens through which we can see the joy and suffering of the signature Díaz subject: what it means to belong to a diaspora, to live out the possibilities and ambiguities of perpetual insider/outsider status.” –The New York Times Book Review

"Nobody does scrappy, sassy, twice-the-speed of sound dialogue better than Junot Díaz. His exuberant short story collection, called This Is How You Lose Her, charts the lives of Dominican immigrants for whom the promise of America comes down to a minimum-wage paycheck, an occasional walk to a movie in a mall and the momentary escape of a grappling in bed." –Maureen Corrigan, NPR

Exhibits the potent blend of literary eloquence and street cred that earned him a Pulitzer Prize… Díaz’s prose is vulgar, brave, and poetic.” –O Magazine

Searing, irresistible new stories… It’s a harsh world Díaz conjures but one filled also with beauty and humor and buoyed by the stubborn resilience of the human spirit.” –People

Junot Díaz has one of the most distinctive and magnetic voices in contemporary fiction: limber, streetwise, caffeinated and wonderfully eclectic… The strongest tales are those fueled by the verbal energy and magpie language that made Brief Wondrous Life so memorable and that capture Yunior’s efforts to commute between two cultures, Dominican and American, while always remaining an outsider.” –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times 

These stories… are virtuosic, command performances that mine the deceptive, lovelorn hearts of men with the blend of tenderness, comedy and vulgarity of early Philip Roth. It's Díaz's voice that's such a delight, and it is every bit his own, a melting-pot pastiche of Spanglish and street slang, pop culture and Dominican culture, and just devastating descriptive power, sometimes all in the same sentence.” –USA Today 

“Impressive… comic in its mopiness, charming in its madness and irresistible in its heartfelt yearning.” –The Washington Post

"The dark ferocity of each of these stories and the types of love it portrays is reason enough to celebrate this book. But the collection is also a major contribution to the short story form... It is an engrossing, ambitious book for readers who demand of their fiction both emotional precision and linguistic daring." –NPR

“The centripetal force of Díaz’s sensibility and the slangy bar-stool confidentiality of his voice that he makes this hybridization feel not only natural and irresistible, but inevitable, the voice of the future… [This is How You Lose Her] manages to be achingly sad and joyful at the same time. Its heart is true, even if Yunior’s isn’t.” –Salon

“[A] propulsive new collection… [that] succeeds not only because of the author's gift for exploring the nuances of the male… but because of a writing style that moves with the rhythm and grace of a well-danced merengue.” –Seattle Times 
 

“In Díaz’s magisterial voice, the trials and tribulations of sex-obsessed objectifiers become a revelation.” –The Boston Globe

Scooch over, Nathan Zuckerman. New Jersey has bred a new literary bad boy… A.” –Entertainment Weekly

Ribald, streetwise, and stunningly moving—a testament, like most of his work, to the yearning, clumsy ways young men come of age.” Vogue

“[An] excellent new collection of stories… [Díaz is] an energetic stylist who expertly moves between high-literary storytelling and fizzy pop, between geek culture and immigrant life, between romance and high drama.” –IndieBound

“Taken together, [these stories’] braggadocio softens into something much more vulnerable and devastating. The intimacy and immediacy… is not just seductive but downright conspiratorial… A heartbreaker.” –The Daily Beast

"Díaz manages a seamless blend of high diction and low, of poetry and vulgarity… Look no further for home truths on sex and heartbreak." –The Economist

“This collection of stories, like everything else [Díaz has] written, feels vital in the literal sense of the word. Tough, smart, unflinching, and exposed, This is How You Lose Her is the perfect reminder of why Junot Díaz won the Pulitzer Prize… [He] writes better about the rapid heartbeat of urban life than pretty much anyone else." –The Christian Science Monitor

“Filled with Díaz’s signature searing voice, loveable/despicable characters and so-true-it-hurts goodness.” –Flavorwire

Díaz writes with subtle and sharp brilliance… He dazzles us with his language skills and his story-making talents, bringing us a narrative that is starkly vernacular and sophisticated, stylistically complex and direct… A spectacular read.” –Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"[This is How You Lose Her] has maturity in content, if not in ethical behavior… Díaz’s ability to be both conversational and formal, eloquent and plainspoken, to say brilliant things Trojan-horsed in slang and self-deprecation, has a way of making you put your guard completely down and be effected in surprising and powerful ways." –The Rumpus

“As tales of relationship redemption go, each of the nine relatable short stories in Junot Díaz's consummate collection This Is How You Lose Her triumphs… Through interrogative second-person narration and colloquial language peppered with Spanish, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author authentically captures Junior's cultural and emotional dualities.” –Metro

“Searing, sometimes hilarious, and always disarming… Readers will remember why everyone wants to write like Díaz, bring him home, or both. Raw and honest, these stories pulsate with raspy ghetto hip-hop and the subtler yet more vital echo of the human heart.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Díaz’s standout fiction remains pinpoint, sinuous, gutsy, and imaginative… Each taut tale of unrequited and betrayed love and family crises is electric with passionate observations and off-the-charts emotional and social intelligence… Fast-paced, unflinching, complexly funny, street-talking tough, perfectly made, and deeply sensitive, Díaz’s gripping stories unveil lives shadowed by prejudice and poverty and bereft of reliable love and trust. These are precarious, unappreciated, precious lives in which intimacy is a lost art, masculinity a parody, and kindness, reason, and hope struggle to survive like seedlings in a war zone.” –Booklist (starred review)

“Díaz’s third book is as stunning as its predecessors. These stories are hard and sad, but in Díaz’s hands they also crackle.” –Library Journal (starred review)

Magnificent… an exuberant rendering of the driving rhythms and juicy Spanglish vocabulary of immigrant speech… sharply observed and morally challenging.” –Kirkus

“A beautifully stirring look at ruined relationships and lost love—and a more than worthy follow-up to [Díaz’s] 2007 Pulitzer winner, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” –Bookpage

"In This Is How You Lose Her, Díaz writes with subtlety and grace, once again demonstrating his remarkable facility for developing fully-realized and authentic characters with an economical rawness... Díaz skillfully portrays his protagonist so vividly, and with so  much apparent honesty, that Yunior’s voice comes across with an immediacy that never once feels inauthentic." –California Literary Review

"Díaz continues to dazzle with his dynamite, street-bruised wit. The bass line of this collection is a thumpingly raw and sexual foray into lives that claw against poverty and racism. It is a wild rhythm that makes more vivid the collection’s heart-busted steadiness." –Dallas Morning News 

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Meet the Author

Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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This Is How You Lose Her 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 118 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for a long plane ride. I love Junot Diaz, really. Like a Junot Diaz/Aaron McGruder slashfic? done. But this book just felt like there was no point. It tapered off at the end and then it was just done. It was certainly a page-turner and I enjoyed it for the duration of the trip, but I felt like it was lacking in completion somehow. For anyone contemplating this book and are wary of the reviewers who complained about the "over-use" of Dominican slang, check your white privilege at the door, please. POCs aren't writing to serve you. So, the use of Spanish is NOT particularly harmful, just as his highbrow lit references aren't meant to be alienating (I almost choked on airplane wine when I read the "she Bartlebys me" line) and even if you happen to be white, you won't feel like POCs are out having a great time without you. Unless you're just like that anyway. Really enjoyed reading this book, but I wish Diaz had delved more into intellectual discussions of his--sorry--YUNIOR's relationships. Entertaining, but I wouldn't read it again.
goodgirlheroineaddict More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because of the reviews and the catchy title. I didn't know the author. However, after reading This Is How You Lose Her, I will look for more books by this author. In a nutshell, this is an autobiography of a Dominican immigrant. It is a rags to riches, dirt poor to Ivy League professor story. Diaz tells you every sad, embarrassing detail which endears him to the reader. You follow him from elementary age immigration to the loss of his older brother - a strong influencing character - to leukemia during high school. Early disconnect from both his father, who left the family for another woman, and his brother hint at rationale for Diaz's emotional distance in future relationships. We watch him struggle to become a responsible man with no positive role models and discover quite the womanizer. The title of the book should tell you all you need to know about the results of his behaviors. He loses, over the course of his adult life several women he truly respected, possibly loved, and is left to ponder his own behavior.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a story of how you can lose everything by being completely insensitive and impulsive. How you can lose everything you think you love because you don't really know what you love. Wonderfully absorbing.
Mizmeeshell More than 1 year ago
I wish this book was longer! Junot Diaz once again intrigues the reader through various tales of lost loves in this quick read. It's raw, relatable, and impossible to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would never have finished this book if I hadn't bought it. I didn't like the characters and found it really hard to follow. If you don't know Spanish, you are in trouble as there will be a lot you can't read!
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Not enough books for Latino men by Latino men in the world. This was great and I could relate with Yunior's life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
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Manages to capture the male perspective about life and love.
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Junot Diaz is like the NWA of literary fiction in the sense that he gives readers a chance to walk in the shoes of someone they might not ordinarily meet. I think this partly explains his popularity as writer. His voice is one we have not heard before.No one has writen about this particular community until now. And yes his characters are profane and they make immoral choices and some readers will not have the stomach for this. However I think it's important to point out that he is not glorifying their behavior; he is mourning it. The book beautifully illustrates some of the tragic aspects of latin culture in stories like Pura Principle in which every character loves someone who is cruel to them while ignoring those that really love them. I would like to say to those that complained about the untranslated Spanish: Come on people. Use context clues. It's not that hard. For me, this book was very moving. I found that I cared for these characters and felt their pain. I plan to reread this book along with Drown in which many of these characters first appeared. To find a book that is good enough to reread? To me that is the highest compliment you can give a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago